“If someone is not personally invited, then he may wonder if he is personally wanted.”

Bishop Eugene J. Gerber

I remember how this quote pierced my heart the first time I read it several years ago in a book titled, “Grateful Response to God’s Abundant Gifts”.  As Mother Teresa often reminded us, to feel unloved is the greatest poverty.  So much of what we have talked about and developed under the stewardship pillar, generous hospitality, can be rooted in our desire to affirm every person’s dignity, to witness to and share the love God has for every person.  It is a powerful tool in battling the sense of loneliness and lack of belonging so prevalent in American culture.

This morning, a co-worker reminded us of the reality that, although Masses have been resumed and many things in our communities are opening back up, there are still those individuals in every community who, for various reasons, must continue to stay at home.  All of us, committed to practicing generous hospitality, must not forget these neighbors and parishioners as we resume more of our previous routines.  I heard this week that Bishop Barron is no longer streaming a daily Mass and I suspect many other individuals and organizations have or soon will cease this service as well.  This has caused me to wonder if some of those in our communities who are still staying at home will lose access to a televised Mass they have come to rely on.

Early on in this pandemic, I made an effort to reach out to people all across the Diocese who I have worked with just to check in and see how they were doing and how things were going in their particular community.  Some of those I contacted were struggling with finding the spiritual nourishment they desired.  Some did not have the knowledge of technology necessary to access resources online; some weren’t aware that Fr. Mulloy was offering a televised Mass and others didn’t know that it was possible for someone without a Facebook account to watch Facebook Live events.

Early on in the pandemic, I was inspired by those parishes who also took the time to reach out to their parishioners via phone call.  For some larger parishes, this was a tremendous time commitment, but I think it had such great potential to help people know they were cared for.  As I made my own phone calls, I encouraged everyone to reach out to parishioners, either as a formal effort on behalf of the parish, or at the very least, as an individual.

It is my sense that perhaps we should look at doing this once again.  As Masses were re-opened some people have returned to our churches, but many have not — at least that is the case at the Cathedral where I am a member.

  • So I am wondering, as the nationally known broadcasts like Bishop Barron’s cease, are there some who are in need of our help to find televised or livestreamed Masses and other opportunities to grow in faith? 

  • Are some of our parishioners feeling further isolated as they watch others return to Mass when they cannot? 

  • What can we do to let them know we miss them and that they are a valued part of our church community?  

In Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish, it notes the importance of reaching out to those parishioners who are “unseen” — college students, the incarcerated, the homebound, etc. as part of our efforts to build a culture of welcome and invitation.  In our current situation, those who must continue to stay home due to health concerns fall into this category.  Let’s be creative in our efforts to continue to show them that they are not forgotten.

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